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The NFLPA Shows Its Muscle Against Marlon Sullivan

Two days ago, the NFLPA announced that Marlon Sullivan will have his license suspended for six months.  Additionally, Sullivan will have to pay a $10,000 fine.  The penalty is based on Sullivan’s supervision of a runner who provided money to a former student-athlete.  Sullivan also did not sign a disclosure form, which the NFLPA requires to be submitted when an agent pays a recruiter fee to a runner who is charged with recruiting new clients.

As far as I can tell, prior to the suspension and fine, Sullivan did not have any active clients under his name.  In fact, Sullivan became certified in 2009. Is this some kind of record regarding fastest to get disciplined since becoming a Contract Advisor?

Prior to becoming certified, Sullivan was a Web Developer / QA at Sports West Football for 3 years and 9 months.  The man in charge at the agency is Angelo Wright, who has represented Ted Washington, Sam Adams, Pat Williams, Alex Molden, Sean Dawkins and many more football players.  Was Sullivan a Contract Advisor for Wright?  If so, is Wright also responsible for the runner’s acts?

The story gets a little more interesting, though.  Angelo Wright was suspended by the NFLPA for incorrectly advising one of his clients.  After Wright appealed his suspension by the NFLPA, he was ultimately fined $25,000 and suspended from being a Contract Advisor for 6 months starting July 10, 2009 (it was originally a 1 year suspension).  This is actually when Sullivan started working as an agent.  Wright continued to own his company.  Did he also continue to oversee operations?

The NFLPA is seriously investigating these matters now, especially in light of recent media attention to the subject.  Sullivan is likely the first of quite a few agents who will receive discipline for their own actions or the actions of those under their supervision.

NFLPA Contract Advisors do not need to even have knowledge or approve of the actions of those under their supervision in order to be held responsible under the NFLPA’s Regulations.  If Sullivan was under the supervision of Wright and the runner was working on behalf of Sullivan and/or Wright, should Wright be concerned as well?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.